As summer is quickly approaching an end it’s already time to start thinking about winter horse prep. Following is a list to help you start preparing your horse and property for the fall and winter months ahead:
Purchase your hay and bedding now: Store up enough green, leafy hay to last your horse through the winter keeping in mind that a horse should receive 2% of it’s body weight in hay per day. If you’re having trouble selecting “good hay” read our article on Choosing the Right Hay to learn more.
Maintain pasture management: End of summer is no time to slack on pasture management, pastures grazed too closely in the fall will be vulnerable to winter damage and slow to grow in the spring. Consider spreading compost or reseeding fields and allowing them to rest to prepare for the months ahead. Late summer/early fall is the best time to seed a blend of legumes and grasses when weeds are less competitive, but remember to keep an eye on soil moisture as it may begin to become an issue.
Manage manure: If you do not already clean up manure on a daily basis now is the time to begin, especially in pastures that receive a large amount of snow and moisture during winter months. A horse averages 50 lbs of manure a day, this may quickly turn into an extra 50 lbs of muck and mess to add to your farm each day during times of rain and thaw. Save yourself the future headache and dispose of excess manure now.
Consider your grounds and equipment: Winter months bring shorter days, are your barn lights in good working order for those early morning cleanings? Make sure the footing in walkways and common areas is up to par before the ground freezes. Are windows and doors in good working to bar against freezing temperatures? Is your daily equipment on it’s last leg? Ensure that heavy machinery is running smoothly, wheelbarrow wheels aren’t about to come loose and manure forks have all their tines!
Provide your horse with shelter: If your horses are on full pasture during the summer months make sure your barn and their stalls are horse-safe and ready to use. Check run-in shelters and make sure winter blankets are clean and ready to go.
Build your horse for winter: The most important component of winter horse prep is your horse’s health and wellbeing. The colder months require more energy from your horse to survive, this oftentimes leads to a loss in condition and overall health throughout the winter leaving you with a major project come springtime just to restore lost condition. Consider HylEquine’s Builder to build your horses up now and fortify them throughout the winter. Have questions on the best way to go about this? Please feel free to email us and we will be happy to help prepare and maintain your horse through the harshest time of year.